In Edo-era Japan, several lettering styles known as Edomoji were invented for advertising purposes. One of these was Kakuji, a highly graphic style of lettering that was characterized by rectangular-shaped letters made of of only vertical and horizontal lines. Now, a team of designers have created a typeset called Mashikaku, comprised of over 9000 characters, which takes inspiration from the old letters and brings them into the 21st century.


the old text that designers used as a reference in creating the Mashikaku typeset


the designers studied how their predecessors styled the characters and then recreated them using similar “kuzushi” techniques of deforming the letters

But what makes the Mashikaku typography project unique is that the designers have tied the font to products, allowing users to input their own words or phrases and print them directly onto a predetermined set of items, thereby integrating the lettering into contemporary lifestyles.

Currently available products include iphone cases, smartphone batteries, cushions and card holders that range from 2800 yen to 5,800 yen (after a 20% discount that’s available through 9/30). But they’ll also let you create an icon of your own choice for free that’s intended to be used as a social media avatar. Ours is below:


Spoon (匙) & Tamago (卵) written in Mashikaku font



In addition to the original products, the folks at Tokyo-based design firm Ideasketch, who created Mashikaku, are also looking for branding partners. They typography is not meant for writing sentences but rather as symbol marks that represent certain ideas. They envision their letters working with a whole host of different events or products like sake branding or for smartwatch fonts. If you’re interested in working with them, get in touch!